Croydon Council’s trading standards team has been commended for its success in combating crime targeted at the elderly and vulnerable.
The team was commended at this year’s Local Government Achievement Awards for their efforts to prevent doorstep crime and fraudulent marketing.
In 2010 to 2011, trading standards officers dealt with 139 scams and incidents of doorstep crime.
One of the most common scams involved a trader calling at a house and telling the elderly resident that urgent repair works were needed to the property.
After the householder had been pressurised into agreeing to the work, the trader only partially completed the works and then over charged them.
Some victims were defrauded of thousands of pounds, sometimes being taken to a nearby cash point to make withdrawals, with one elderly resident nearly losing possession of his house.
Another scam involved elderly residents becoming victims of telephone and postal scams committed by criminals overseas who told them that they had won competition prize money.
Victims were told before claiming their prize they had to transfer an amount of money with elderly victims being duped out of thousands of pounds.
Simon Hoar, cabinet member for community safety, said: "Our trading standards team has worked diligently and productively, coming up with some great results, and it’s good that all the hard work has been recognised on a national level.
"Working alongside partners including the police, banks and building societies, the Neighbourhood Watch, Age UK and other authorities’ trading standards departments, has meant they’ve been able to extend their net, to greater effect."